The Southeast Bulloch Yellow Jacket flag football team is one step closer to claiming their second straight state title as they knocked off Northside Columbus 7-0 in a defensive battle to improve to 18-0 and advanced to the state Final-4.
In their closest game since Oct. 8 the Yellow Jackets scored in the first half and then counted on their defense to do the job the rest of the way. The SEB defense came through with their 13th shutout in their last 14 games and didn’t allow the Patriots into the red-zone the entire second half.
“That is a very good team and they have gotten a lot better since last year when we played them,” said SEB coach Marci Cochran. “That was a very tough game and their defense was great. They knew what we were going to do and executed a great gameplan on defense. Thankfully we scored early and were able to shut them down with our defense.”
Southeast Bulloch took their opening drive and marched downfield behind quarterback Ansleigh Littles. Littles capped the drive rolling left and finding Addie Hood for a 10-yard touchdown pass. The one-point conversion run by Kaylee Haas extended the lead to 7-0.
“It is always a good thing when we are able to go out and score early,” said Cochran. “Little did we know that was all we would score. They gave us a couple looks we haven’t seen and it may be a good thing we saw that as it gives us a chance to work on things before our game next week.”
The Patriots marched down field on their ensuing possession behind the passing of quarterback Leah Prather as they drove all the way down inside the SEB 20-yard line, becoming the first team to do that in the last six games. The defense then came up with a big play as Haas picked off a tipped pass and the Jackets dodged a bullet and went to the half leading 7-0.
“We always say if the other team doesn’t score, we will win,” said Cochran. “Our defense has been playing great and came through with a couple big interceptions tonight. We got pressure on their quarterback and aside from a couple big plays we did a good job of shutting them down.”
The Yellow Jackets moved the ball downfield to open the second half, but the Patriots Heidi Swain picked off a tipped pass from Littles to end the drive. The Patriots came through with a big play moments later on a hook and ladder play to Claire Cahalan who took off down the far sidelines to the SEB 30-yard line. The Jacket defense stiffened from there and held on fourth down forcing an incomplete pass.
The offense was forced to punt on their next possession and with less than a minute to play Littles iced the game picking off a Prather pass. She lateralled the ball to Hood who took off to the end zone. A flag guarding penalty nullified the touchdown, but the Jackets were able to run out the clock and celebrate their second straight trip to the Final-4.
Next up the Jackets will take on Loganville in the state semifinals which will be played at the Atlanta Falcons training facility in Flowery Branch Monday at 3:30. The Red Devils come in with a record of 15-0 and are coming off an impressive 27-7-win Thursday against Long County. SEB defeated Long County 18-14 Oct. 8.